Category: Teen

Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins

Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins

Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis by Jeannine Atkins (9781481459051)

Edmonia Lewis was the first professional African-American sculptor. She lived and worked in the period right after the Civil War. This verse novel takes the little information known about Edmonia and fills in the gaps with what may have happened. Edmonia attended Oberlin College, one of the first colleges to accept women and people of color. Half Objibwe and half African-American, Edmonia struggles to find her place at Oberlin. When she is accused by other students of poisoning and theft she is forced to leave college despite being acquitted of all charges. The book follows Edmonia as she moves to Boston and eventually Italy, becoming a successful sculptor.

This is an exceptional verse novel. Each poem reads like a stand-alone poem and yet also fits into Edmonia’s complete story. Atkins uses rich and detailed language to convey the historical times right after the Civil War to the reader. She also works to share the real soul of Edmonia herself on the page, a girl who has given up the freedom of life with the Ojibwe to study art at a prestigious college only to have it all fall apart again and again. It is a lesson in resilience and the power of art that Edmonia continues to strive to become the artist she truly is despite all of the odds.

This book reads like a series of stunning pieces of art, strung together into a larger display. The use of language is so beautifully done, carefully crafted with skill and depth. Atkins uses the few details of Edmonia’s life to craft a real person of flesh, bone and dreams on the page. Throughout the book, care is taken that no one forget the historical times the book takes place during and their impact on Edmonia as a person of color.

Timely and simply amazing, this verse novel is uplifting and deeply moving. Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

2017 Edgar Award Nominees

The Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for their Edgar Awards. Here are the nominees in the juvenile categories:

BEST JUVENILE

The Bad Kid Cover Framed! Cover

The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere

Framed! by James Ponti

Ocdaniel Cover Some Kind of Happiness Cover

OCDaniel by Wesley King

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Summerlost Cover Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry Cover

Summerlost by Ally Condie

Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught

 

YOUNG ADULT

The Girl I Used to Be Cover Girl in the Blue Coat Cover

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

My Sister Rosa Cover Thieving Weasels Cover

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor

Three Truths and a Lie Cover

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (9780062498533)

This teen novel has more buzz than any I’ve ever seen. Happily, it is all entirely justified and I’ll join the crowd in singing its praises and looking forward to the upcoming film!

Starr is sixteen and witnessed a friend killed in a drive-by shooting when she was a child. Now she finds herself witnessing another killing, this time another friend who is shot in the back by a police officer during a traffic stop. Starr already lives in two worlds, the poor neighborhood where her family lives and her father has a store and the private prep school she attends in the suburbs. Now she must walk an ever more razorsharp edge, figuring out the dangers of the truth and the equally harsh dangers of staying silent.

Thomas takes on racism in modern America head on and without flinching. She paints a picture of poor African-American communities that looks beyond the poverty into the heart of the community itself. Still, this is not a picket fence world but one that is complex, riddled with gang activity, but still has a heart and a culture that sings. Thomas also shows the choices that African Americans must make in staying in a crime-filled community to help or moving away for safety of their children. It is not simple, nothing in this novel is, thank goodness.

The characters are incredibly rich and complicated as well. Starr is a wonderful heroine, grappling with grief, the situation of being a witness, and the knowledge that even telling the truth may not make a difference. She is wise, young, hopeful and jaded all at once. She is a face for what is happening in this country and a way that white teens can understand the issues and black teens can see themselves portrayed beautifully in a novel.

I must also mention the incredible African-American fathers shown in the book. Yes, there are men who are awful here too. But Maverick is a complicated father with high expectations for his children who cheated on Starr’s mother and also did jail time for his gang activity. That doesn’t mean he isn’t there for his family or loves them any less. Again, it’s complicated. Add to that Uncle Carlos who is a police officer and who stepped in to help raise Starr when Maverick was in jail. He is a crucial character to the story, and also a critical figure in Starr’s upbringing and her strength.

This debut novel is breathtakingly honest, searingly angry and exactly what we need right now. I can’t wait to see what this author does next! Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

a-single-stone-by-meg-mckinlay

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay (9780763688370)

Released March 14, 2017.

In a society entirely closed off from the rest of the world by mountains and fallen stone, Jena leads the line, a string of girls who can find the fuel in the mountains that allows their village to survive the winter. The Mothers watch over the village, deciding who is in the line, setting the rules and helping birth the babies. Girls are considered far more valuable than boys, since men are forbidden to enter the mountain at all. Girls must be tiny and petite, yet strong enough to brave the demands of climbing through tight passages in the stone. As Jena begins to learn more of the control that the Mothers have placed on everyone and the larger decisions they are making with no one knowing, she starts to have doubts about everything she has ever known.

McKinlay has written a wonderfully claustrophobic book with walls of stone that limit and surround everything and then the dangers of the blind travel through darkness and stone. Even as Jena figures out what is truly happening to the village, there is suffocating attention that adds to the pressure keg of a novel. The book has a brisk pace, deliberately impacted at times by the slow treachery of journeys into the mountain. This adds to the mounting tension of the book.

Jena is a strong female protagonist, willing to ask questions about her village. She is cast as a leader and yet also someone who is separate because her family has died even as her father tried to flee. Jena was taken in by another family and yet remains somewhat separate allowing her to naturally see things that others may have overlooked or missed. As more people are risked and die, Jena must find even more heroism inside her to confront those in control.

Strong writing and a delicious tension make this book a stand out teen fantasy. Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.

2017 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

YALSA has announced their list of the 2017 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. This is one of my favorite lists of the year, since it always has books that will be popular with teens that aren’t found on other lists. There is also a top ten list shown below:

All American Boys Cover Daughters Unto Devils Cover

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Kiely Brendan

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Exit, Pursued by a Bear Cover Feminism Cover

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston

Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word by Nadia Abushanab Higgins

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love Cover If I Was Your Girl Cover

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Plutona Cover Symptoms of Being Human Cover

Plutona by Jeff Lemire

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Tell Me Three Things Cover This Is Where It Ends Cover

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

 

2017 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has announced their list of 2017 Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Part of that list is a top ten, those titles are below:

Black Panther, Book 1 Cover Filmish Cover

Black Panther, Book One: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze

Filmish: a Graphic Journey Through Film by Edward Ross

Giant Days, Volume 1 Cover March, Book Three Cover

Giant Days (Volumes 1 & 2) by John Allison and Lissa Treiman

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Mighty Jack Cover Orange Cover

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

orange: The Complete Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano

Paper Girls, Volume 1 Cover Plutona Cover

Paper Girls 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lennox

Prez, Vol. 1: Corndog-in-Chief We Stand On Guard

Prez, Volume 1: Corndog in Chief by Mark Russell, Ben Caldwell and Mark Morales

We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce and Matt Hollingsworth